Herb Series – Part 5 – Rosemary

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This week I’ve decided to include both rosemary and dill instead of stretching the series out another week.  The link to the dill article is at the bottom of this post.

Let’s first talk about rosemary.  Rosemary is an herb which originally came from the Mediterranean.  So we shouldn’t be surprised it is used in many recipes from regions such as Italy, France and Spain.  Rosemary is related to the mint plant which I found very interesting.   Rosemary is often used as seasoning for cooking lamb.  If you are unfamiliar with rosemary, then take a fresh sprig, wash the leaves and taste them for yourself.  Rosemary has a distinct flavor and once you know it – you’ll remember it. I do not use it much in my recipes but I plan on experimenting with it more in the summer months when I am growing it.


To Grow (from seed):

First off, rosemary is hard to grow from seed.  Sure some will say they had no problems, but still others will beg to differ.  Therefore, if you want the challenge – plant from seed.  If you don’t care and just want rosemary then go with buying some seedlings from a store.

Sunlight: Full sun is most desirable.   When growing indoors start 6-8 weeks before the last frost date.

Type of soil: Rosemary prefers an alkaline soil.  This means it does best with low acidity.  It can also be called “limey soil”.  The ideal PH range should be between 6.5 and 7.5 but anything from 6 to 8.5 is fine. Remember, from a scale 1 to 10, 1 is high acidity and 10 is lowest.

Planting by seed: It is recommended to start indoors using a grow light or a very sunny window.   Soak the seed a few hours before planting.   It can take up to 20 days for the seeds to germinate (sprout).   Because rosemary is hard to grow, it is suggested to plant more seeds than you would think you need to make sure all your bases are covered.    Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil (make sure the soil has good drainage by putting some pebbles/rocks underneath the soil).  Cover with a light dusting of soil if any really, and mist with water.  It can take up to 5 months from seed to full plant – this is why you must start early.

Watering:  During germination, water daily keeping the soil moist. Once they are sprouting, cut back to once a week.   Do not keep the soil water logged – just keep it from drying out.

Transplanting/Planting from Seedlings: The best time to transfer outside is around April.  These herbs can tolerate most climates, so if it is still cold you should be fine.  Space the plants about 4 feet apart and make sure not to damage the roots when planting.  Choose a location which gets full sun or at least partial shade.

Watering after transplanting outdoors: The ironic thing with rosemary I found was that it does not need much water at all once it is established outdoors.  The seeds required daily watering, but once grown they say to only water if it begins to wilt.

Shaping:  Yes, shaping.   You can grow these as evergreens, so once they get a few feet tall, pull out your pruning scissors and get to work!

Note:  Rosemary is an evergreen bush, therefore it is a good choice for landscaping plans.   Deer are not particularly fond of rosemary, but this doesn’t mean they won’t eat it if they are really hungry!

Read about Dill at my next herb post.


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